Same Job, Same Size Budget Equals Less Pay for Women

Same Job, Same Size Budget Equals Less Pay for Women

Hey, married men – wake up! Your working wives are getting shorted on pay and that means your family has less money than it should.

A new report on pay, made public today by Guidestar USA  proves discrimination against women is pervasive.

The new report compares men and women with the same positions at similarly sized nonprofit enterprises, so the fact that women often work in lower-paid occupations such as waitressing, retail and clerical work is irrelevant in this study.

While women who become waitresses or retail clerks should expect to make less than lawyers and executives, there is no reason that women executives and lawyers should make less than men doing the same jobs — but they do.

Men holding the top spot at nonprofits averaged between 10 percent and a third more than women in the same jobs, Guidestar found.

In general, the bigger the organization and the bigger the job responsibilities, the greater the gap between what women and men are paid — and the greater the share of top jobs held by men.

Guidestar is a nonprofit organization that compiles data reported to the IRS, and the public, by all nonprofits. The 2010 data cover not just charities that solicit donations, but trade organizations, small mutual insurance operations and social welfare organizations among the 29 types of nonprofits authorized by Congress.

This is Guidestar’s 12th annual Nonprofit Compensation Report and it draws on disclosures by more than 77,000 nonprofits.

The report used names to determine sex. Androgynous names like Pat or Chris were excluded from the analysis, Charles McLean, Guidestar’s research director, told me.

At small nonprofits, those with an annual budget of less than $250,000, men in the top job averaged $53,389. That is 10 percent more than the $45,038 paid to women.

More than half of these small nonprofits, 57 percent, were led by women.

At the top, these gaps grew to chasms.

Among organizations with budgets of $50 million or more, men in the top job averaged $644,375. That is almost a third more than the $488,249 average for women CEOs.

Even more telling, women held just 1 in 6 of the CEO jobs at the biggest nonprofits.

The only CEOs who made more than $1 million a year on average were men at $50 million-plus nonprofits who, at the 90th percentile, averaged almost $1.2 million, compared to less than $924,000 for women at the same percentile of pay.

The pattern is pretty much the same for the top legal and finance jobs at nonprofits. However, pay disparities are smaller for public relations.

The same pattern of men dominating in the highest-paid jobs is found in the latest ORS data on wages reported on income tax returns.

Among people with wages of $10 million or more, just one in 29 was a woman. These 60 highly paid women workers averaged $18.8 million in wages in 2010, IRS data shows.

Men accounted for more than 96 percent of all top wage earners. The 1,664 men were paid on average $20.1 million or almost 7 percent more than the highest-paid women workers, the IRS data shows.

The IRS data also shows that as workers get older, the pay disparities between men and women increase. Among workers under age 26, the average pay of men was $16,000 in 2010, just 22 percent more than women of the same age.

But for workers ages 45 to 60, men averaged about $67,000, which was 70 percent more than women, who averaged slightly less than $40,000.

This may reflect occupational choices, but it may also indicate that as time passes, the gap between what men and women make will narrow.

Guidestar gets its figures from the Form 990 tax returns that all nonprofits must file with the IRS. It then analyzes them in many ways, including pay by gender and size of organization budget.

The data is exceptionally robust because Congress micromanages nonprofit pay, a cause championed by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a Republican who is the only pig farmer in the Senate and a longtime antagonist of charities and other nonprofits.

One benefit of Grassley’s instinctive suspicion of nonprofits is that he persuaded Congress to require much more complete disclosures on what nonprofits pay than corporations. Profit-making enterprises only have to disclose what their top five executives were paid, and then only if they have publicly traded stock or bonds.

Even more significant, Congress requires rigorous and costly review of pay comparability for nonprofit leaders.

The zone of discretion for paying nonprofit executives under the laws Grassley sponsored and rules the IRS issued is exceedingly narrow, unlike the wide-open rules for profit-making corporations. For nonprofits with budgets of $5 million to $10 million, the zone of discretion is perhaps $10,000 above or below what the Guidestar and other pay studies show, compensation consultants have advised me when I sought their advice because nonprofit boards on which I volunteered assigned me to recommend the top executive’s pay.

Discrimination against women is pervasive and significant. It is also only slightly less severe than it was in Guidestar’s first pay study in 2001.

McLean, the Guidestar research director, said, “There is progress being made, but it is very slow.”

Two ways to speed up that process:

—Women who are married should make sure their spouses know how much money the family loses because of gender discrimination.

—Men should be in the forefront of demanding for equal pay for women, especially the majority of married men with a working wife.

Or we could do nothing, and just keep shortchanging women.

Photo: Pattie74_99 via

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